Something was Missing
I had been sober for eight years, stuck in Step 11, for the last three. Stuck in the belief held by many in AA, that good actions will bring about good thoughts. At the time, I was convinced, that I would only ever experience a spiritual experience, of the “intellectual variety”, if I ever had one at all. And while my life continued to slowly improve, I never had the feeling of being happy, joyous and free. Something was missing.
It takes a Community
Improve the Steps
The 12-STEPS are a spiritual approach to recovery, the key is finding a “sponsor” who has recovered, and you can do business with. Don’t think that just going to meetings for the rest of your life is going to do the trick. Meetings evolved because of the program, they were never intended to be the program. But I believe that my spiritual experience would have come about much quicker if the !2-Steps had utilized some of the techniques found in modern Humanistic Psychology and in Neural Linguistic Programming. And I’m going to attempt to tell you why.
I would have been better served, if someone had explained to me in Step 1, that an unmanageable life, was the cause and effect of holding dis-empowering beliefs.The beliefs I held caused my thoughts, which caused my life experience and that perception is not reality. People respond to their experience not to reality itself. The map is not the territory and we don’t know what we don’t know.
Step 2 that a power greater then myself could restore my sanity.. That we have the mind of the creator and we have the resources we need to change or create.. We are spiritual beings having human experiences.
Step 3 should not be all about God, but instead the difference between being, willful and willing should be examined. Willful being unreasonably stubborn,and inflexible as opposed to being willing to be open, flexible with cheerful readiness. How willing was I to change my life, the results of my thoughts and beliefs.
In Step 4 and 5, I realized that every thing, both good and bad, that had happened to me, was my fault, that I had pulled all the strings. I entered these steps feeling like a victim and came out as the cause. Locus of control, did life happen to me or did I happen to life.
Steps 6 and 7 are about character defects. It’s in walking the defects back, that you find the beliefs behind them. Impatience is due to the fact that I believed it solved a problem quicker. A superiority complex because I believed I was entitled. Identify and put distance between, to remove.
Steps 8 and 9, Drop the rock. Every behavior has a positive intention. Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available. Hurt people, hurt people. It’s important to forgive yourself before asking for forgiveness.
Steps 10 and 11 be aware of slipping back into old behaviors and thinking. Be present not a day at a time but 5 minutes at a time. Prayer and meditation where you talk to your higher power and listen for an answer. This is a action step were real transformation is possible if your willing to work.
Step 12 help others.
The Addiction is a Symptom
Most people are surprised when they learn that their medicine is only a symptom, to deep psychological issues. To start living I needed to stop condemning, fearing and hating. Recovery from this disease was dependent on my willingness to explore new ways at looking at both myself and the world, while enduring the fear of changing old belief patterns.
Treatment Centers and IOP programs fill a necessary step, in the recovery process, by educating the individual that they are suffering from a progressive illness, and that in order to get to the root cause of the problem, a person needs to stop self medicating themselves.
Not the Solution
Treatment Centers because of their expense structures are not equipped to do this and even Intensive Outpatient Programs, can’t for the same reason. What these programs can do is lay the ground work for the individual, educating them that they are suffering from a mental disease.They Think Addiction is the Problem
Most people come to treatment centers and IOP’s for problems they have developed with their medicine of choice, usually Alcohol or Drugs, Food, Gambling and Sex to a lesser degree.They are concerned that their medicine is not only not working, but has become THE problem, which of course is true on one level but misses the point on the other.
What held me back from having a spiritual experience.? The simple fact is that I was suffering from NPD. It’s my opinion that ALL addictions are rooted in NPD.
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER.
- This is a mental condition in which people have a inflated sense of their own importance
- A deep need for excessive attention and admiration.
- An inability to form healthy relationships coupled with a lack of empathy for others.
- Hidden behind a mask of confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Symptoms include but are not limited to,
- Exaggerated self importance and sense of entitlement.
- A need to be recognized and a preoccupation with success power and beauty.
- A superiority complex and a propensity to take advantage of others, to get what they want.
- They don’t recognize the needs of others and are often seen as arrogant and haughty.They are very impatient and anger easily.
- They suffer from significant interpersonal problems and struggle handling stress and change.
- They are often depressed and moody.
- They hold in feelings of shame and humiliation.
- Easily addicted to anything that changes the way they fell
A person suffering from NPD often can’t see any of these symptoms and will deny it to themselves and others if challenged. Often manipulating it in such a way that accusers back off in frustration. The causes of NPD are family environment, genetic predisposition and neurobiology problems due to trauma. These symptoms work together or separately to form a belief system that runs against nature and causes a craving for anything that will alleviate the mental anguish.
The most common dis-empowering beliefs are,
- I must be perfect in all I do.
- I must be liked and admired by everyone.
- I need others to tell me I am OK to be OK.
- People don’t change.
- People need to make me happy.
- People are inherently lazy and bad.
- Problems are a sign of weakness.
- Fear of the future and an inability to live in the present.
- Life is a struggle and the universe is a scary place.
- Complaining works to solve problems.
- Deny your true feelings, wear a mask. Manipulating people works.
- Distrust intuition and an inability to make or trust decisions.
- Don’t trust anybody they will let you down.
- Blame others for your mistakes.
- It’s better to be right then happy.
- God is judgemental and life is hard full of self-sacrifice.
- Put your own needs first and win at any cost.
- Fear of intimacy and the belief that external things will satisfy internal longings
- An inability to deal with and a resentment to authority.
- Never surrender and debate everything.
- It’s our addiction that makes us miserable.
Problems with the Truth
A person with NPD, has created so many dis-empowering beliefs, about how the world operates, that it’s hard to pin down, which one in particular, is really holding them back. They are master manipulators and have real problems with the truth. Initially professionals are looking to get this individual past Denial and into Willingness, to at least consider that something is wrong. It starts there. Acceptance that they have a problem is the first step of the 12- Steps. To quote Martin Luther King Jr. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”
A Spiritual Act
I started by saying that healing from Alcoholism was ultimately a spiritual act and the 12-STEPS have a spiritual approach to recovery. What I have realized after thirty years in and around AA is that the addict has to want to recover. Only when I was physically sober did I start to comprehend that the Alcohol was only the symptom to serious psychological problems. The evidence that something is amiss in the mind doesn’t correct the origin of the problem in the heart.
It’s possible for a lifelong affliction to heal rapidly with a mere shift of attitude, but even though the shift may seem to occur in a split second, it may in actuality take years of inner preparation. Then it happened, while sitting on a park bench, looking at nothing in particular, I was suddenly stuck. Loud over and over the thought, Our Habitual Mind, the mind of God, works 24/7 to manifest the beliefs we hold. Our universe, designed to grow man has no choice, but to bring to fruition what the mind manifests. A man is what he believes.
As always, thanks for visiting. Dave